A Eulogy delivered by Nick Hare at his father's funeral on July 11, 1997
On behalf of Elsie (Ewan's wife) and the whole family I would like to welcome you all and thank you for joining us to share in saying goodbye to Ewan.
When I told the Secretary General of the Commonwealth who is an African Chief, the reason I would be away from the office for a couple of days, he first offered his condolences to the family and then asked how old dad was when he died. When I said that he was 94, he gave the broadest of grins and said, "but Nick that is marvellous, absolutely marvellous, why it is a cause for celebration!" It is with this wise African perspective in mind on the relativity of life and death that I thought that we should look back today and remember what a rich, active and quite unique life Ewan enjoyed for just short of a full century.
Ewan's life divides into five general periods. The first was his childhood in Southport (where much of it was likely spent dropping a line off the pier), and his studies at Perse School in Cambridge. How often he would refer to the family house on York. Road. It was from there that his father Doctor Alfred Hare, would drive up to this area to treat a patient of his, Mrs. Seymour-Mead, with Ewan, the oldest of his seven children in tow. Mrs. Seymour-Mead lived in Eden Hall on the banks of the trout-filled Eden. It was during these periods that he learned how to fly-fish, from Mrs. Mead's river-keeper, and indeed developed a passion for the sport, which he then passed on to Jonathon and Stephen and became a bond the three shared. It was then that he developed his love for this area.
The next 'stage' is dad's life spanned the 15 years after the First World War, when he served as a member of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange. That was when cotton was still 'king' and before synthetics and the Second World War closed most of the Lancastrian mills. Dad would make regular visits to New Orleans, and other Southern American cities to buy cotton. (Dad was a superlative salesman as those of us with our walls covered with his prints will know) He often reminisced about those years, and but for the War and the demise of the industry would likely have made a substantive career. However, that was not to be for he had been commissioned into the Territorial Army, promoted to Major in 1938, and thus embarked on the third period in his life, one of course shared by most able bodied men in this and many other countries. My sister Rhoda and I, aged about 2 years, and 3 months respectively, were packed off to Canada while dad was assigned to various units around the country, ending up in the Orkneys. We caught up with him once during the War, risking a perilous crossing of the Atlantic, and then returned a second time to find that he had been sent to Egypt. When we got to Egypt, he had been sent to Greece, and this was the beginning of the fourth stage in his life.
He was dropped behind the lines by the Navy on the Greek island of Evia as the Germans were preparing to evacuate, and worked withthe partisans to harass their withdrawal. This was an exciting, but difficult time which I wish we knew more about. To illustrate, I'll quote from a speech which he gave when he came back to Britain.
"Autumn, Dakota, Submarine, Motor Bike. Trikalla. Force 133. 5000 Italians. 1 Soviet 4 Greek officers, Italian servant interpreter. All in mountains. Germans still in North & Islands. Only sick Italians left. Destroyer. Skiathos, sporides. Light houses. Chased by Elan. Signalled Naval whaler. Salonika. New Year's Eve. Whaler sunk. Cargo ship to Athens. Temporary truce, Sent back to Trikalla. Prisoners brought out. Gjurka drivers. 1,100 hostages."
The devastation left in the wake of the War was the object of a major relief effort by the United Nations and then under the Marshall Plan. Ewan was hired by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency, then became Field Advisor for the American Mission For Aid To Greece. He was responsible for providing aid to refugees and rehabilitation assistance for an area covering almost half of Greece, and for this work he wa made an honorary citizen of five different towns, one of which named a road after him. He was awarded the Silver Medal of the Greek Red Cross as well.
In 1954 dad joined the Foreign Office as First Secrtary responsible for information at the Embassy at Athens. This was the beginning of turbulent times in relations between Greece and Britain over the independence of Cyprus, an uneasy time politically that was to span 10 years. However on the personal front, it was a most happy time for Ewan for he met and married Elsie and Jonathan and Stephen were born. For his skill in handling Britain's public relations in Greece during this period he was awarded the O.B.E. and when he retired in 1965 and left Greece, he was given the Freedom of the City of Athens, which was an honour no other Briton had enjoyed.
The fifth and longest period of his life finds Ewan, Elsie, Jonathan and Stephen in Appleby with Dorothy and Lois soon to arrive. Dad had said to Elsie that it really didn't matter where they retired to as long as it was on the river Eden. By good fortune, a friend of theirs, John Coney, then the owner of Appleby Castle, had offered them the house that have lived in ever since. They had taken it sight unseen, and trusted Mrs. Seymour-Mead's judgement. What a wonderful irony that dad had come full circle back to his favourite spot! If you had asked him, "Why Appleby?", apart from its natural beauty, he would candidly say thatthey moved here because of the trout in the rivers Eden and Eamont, and because there were 8 racecourses within an hour's drive! Ewan settled in quickly, worked withthe local boy's clubs, was Chairman of the Appleby Conservative Association, joined the North Westmoreland section of the Special Constabulary where he held the rank of Inspector and was an active member on the St. Lawrence's Church Council. But of course this was not all. No member of the local horticultural society will ever forgive or forget dad's explots at the Annual Appleby and District Gardener's Society competition where he invariably won a string of ribbons. This so incensed one of the participants one year that he (or she) actually lifted his prize-winning peas. When I was last living in Canada a friendly competition emerged brtween us as to who could grow the largest cucumbers. Dad was convinced that the pictures taht I had sent that proved that m cucumber was larger than his, could only have been a picture of a marrow - maybe he was right. Still on the cucumber front, Elsie can tell you of teh day that the required cucumber flower fell off the cucumber before the day of judgeing and just how and why dad still won first prize.
Dad was a keen marksman, taking firsts and seconds at Bisley. I know this for sure as Elsie and he took me to Lowther when dad was 85 and I was on a visit. Dad scored 3 bullseyes at the shooting range and I did not even come close.
Many will remember dad for his ability to get along with others and I would like to quote from an article in a Greek newspaper at the time he and Elsie left Greece to show you what I mean. The reporter wrote as follows:
"Few people after playing such a long and active part in Greek affairs, can have made so many friends and succeeded in making no enemies. He maintained friendly relations with everybone. He was a valuable advisor, patient and gentle but firm and determined in the discharge of duties entrusted to him. He was always successful in smoothing out difficulties and preserving good relations."
Quite an accomplishment for such praise to be given to an Englishman by a Greek journalist given the state of relations between Britain and Greece at the time.
Vicar Peter Norton, in the sanctity of your and Ewan's church, I must tell you that you had a sinner among your flock. Dad was not averse to placing the odd bet on the odd horse. In fact, he was quite good at it to his bookie's chagrin. I hope that you will forgive him, but you know, he was good enough at it that just before he left Greece, he was offered the job of managing the Athen's Jockey Club. Luckily, Elsie's powers of persuasion prevailed, and Appleby won over Athens.
Dad had abroad view of the world, having travelled widely, been in business, been in the armed forces and been a diplomat. He also had a strong sense of family heritage that he instilled in all of us. We can tell you where the Hares and the Christians came from. Most of us have visited the ancestral sites at one time or another. Ask us to show you the family tree and it will show thatthe Hares, via the Christians, go back to the 12th century.
Paying tribute cannot be done without recognizing the strong love and affection that he and ELsie had for each other as well as for their children. After all, who else but Ewan and Elsie could have returned to England from Greece with next to nothing, and made a stable-block and a field into such a precious home and a locally-reknowned garden. It was the most wonderful place to grow up in!
We will all remember dad's ready wit and his remarkable memory. Many have been treated to his rendition of Albert and the Lion which he would give with a little prompting and perhaps a glass of wine at most dinner parties. Hs limericks, particularly in Latin, would come around dessert time. For his 90th birthday party the family put their own set of these together, one of which read:
"Onto to Evia he was dropped by the Navy
Where he mopped up the Germans like gravy
The result you can see
was an OBE
and a steet named Hare for reasons quite hazy"
As for dad, his very favourite rhyme, which embodies his sense of humour and his perspective on life, has been hanging on his wall for as long as any of us can remember and it reads:
Enjoy thy stream
thou little fish
And should some angler
for his dish
Through gluttony and sin -
Attempt - the Wretch!
To pull thee out,
God give you strength
Thou little trout,
To pull the rascal in!
When fishing, and it was late and quite dark, and others had put down their own rods, dad would say that he would take just one more cast. This was all too often a wise move, for it would be then that he would take the best, and sometimes only, fish of the day. That was how dad lived his life - he just wasn't one to give up.
As the Secretary Geneal of the Commonwealth had said, hasn't dad's life been marvellous, absolutely marvellous ... why it is cause for celebration.
Back to Jones Tracks
Back To Tracking Us.